For a biopic of a real-life person, this feels like an oddly standard mob thriller. It's the true story of Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, and it's told with gritty filmmaking and robust performances. But there's very little about the movie that sets it apart, leaving it as yet another depiction of violent criminal ambition and betrayal. And by the end, it's difficult to escape the feeling that we've seen it all before.
It opens in 1975 South Boston, where Jimmy Bulger (Johnny Depp) runs the Irish mafia, while his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a senator. Their childhood friend John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) is an FBI agent who has asked for their help in taking down the rival Angiulo family, which Jimmy sees as a win-win situation: he'll get rid of the competition while avoiding jail himself. Over the next 10 years, Jimmy expands his operation dramatically, and he's not afraid to get his own hands dirty as he sorts out problems that are created by his sidekicks (including Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons and W. Earl Brown), all of whom are increasingly annoyed at his control-freak ways. But as Jimmy becomes even more notorious, the FBI boss (Kevin Bacon) pressures John to take him down.
The actors dive into their roles. Depp transforms himself physically into a prowling thug with terrifyingly piercing eyes. He may be a heartless killer, but he's also a caring family man. Opposite him, Edgerton has a trickier role as a federal agent who operates more like the gangster he'd rather be, casually ignoring the law to push his own agenda. In the sprawling supporting cast, only a few characters emerge memorably: Cumberbatch has a sparky presence, Cochrane offers some thoughtfulness, and Bacon gets to chomp on the scenery. Other roles are much briefer, especially the sidelined female characters.
Continue reading: Black Mass Review
Whitey Bulger has had the FBI under his thumb for too long, and now people are starting to notice. How can a criminal mastermind responsible for every major offence in the city pass by seemingly unnoticed for an entire lifetime? It's true he landed in Alcatrez at a young age, but the older the more dangerous he becomes; a kingpin of the South Boston criminal underworld who escaped justice by informing authorities of all movements of the rival gang, the Italian Mafia, as suggested by his most useful contact and friend John Connolly. But the Irish Winter Hill Gang is growing ever more powerful, and Bulger's feelings of invincibility lead to more and more murders and destruction. It's time he was stopped, but finding him is not going to be easy.
Continue: Black Mass Trailer
Irish-American criminal mastermind Whitey Bulger was arguably one of the most dangerous men in America before his arrest in 2011 at the age of 81. He'd already spent time in Alcatrez as a much younger man, having spent a lot of time on the streets of South Boston. However, by the 70s he proved to be the FBI's best tool in controlling organised crime within the country, and he was eventually persuaded by his friend John Connolly to be their informant in all workings of the rival Italian Mafia. However, it's not safe business being both a highly respected gangster and a police informant, and while much of his activity is being largely ignored as he rises to become top of the Irish Winter Hill Gang, it seems he is gaining too many killings and dodgy dealings under his belt to go unnoticed.
Continue: Black Mass - Teaser Trailer
Sometimes, the greatest hiding place is in plain sight. For twelve years from the mid-1990s, he was the FBI's second most wanted fugitive, behind Osama Bin Laden. Throughout the 1970s, he was an FBI informant, revealing information to bring down an Italian American crime family, and he was the brother of a US senator. But really, his informant years were to stop another family from invading his own turf. Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) was one of the most brutal and violent criminals in Boston, being the secret puppet master behind one of the most dangerous crime families in history.
Continue: Black Mass - First Look Trailer
Coarse and not exactly subtle, this dark drama might disappoint viewers expecting a more traditional revenge thriller, but there's something more interesting going on here. And even though it starts at full volume and only gets more intense, the film is actually remarkably thoughtful and measured in its approach.
It's set in the Rust Belt, industrial Pennsylvania, where Russell (Bale) works in a steel mill and worries about his little brother Rodney (Affleck), who's deep in debt to a local bookie (Dafoe). Then a late-night car crash lands Russell in prison, and when he's released everything has changed. He has no job, his girlfriend (Saldana) is now dating the local sheriff (Whitaker), and Rodney is paying off his debts by fighting in bare-knuckle boxing matches. Even more perilous is the fact that all of this puts the brothers on a collision course with vicious local redneck Harlan (Harrelson), who has no intention of making their lives easier.
The film opens with a particularly brutal display of Harlan's menace, so we know what's coming. And as everything goes from bad to worse for our two heroes, the film feels almost aggressively harsh. Of course, Bale and Affleck are terrific as these damaged men whose fierce bond both helps and puts them into danger. And both actors let us see beneath the surface as their lives fall apart. In what could be the thankless ex-girlfriend role, Saldana has some surprisingly powerful moments. And Harrelson is a deeply terrifying force to reckon with.
Continue reading: Out Of The Furnace Review
Bale had a more relaxed time acting in a low-budget drama.
Sometimes movie stars have trouble restarting their career after the role of a lifetime, but such is not the case with Christian Bale. After the end of the tough-to-follow Dark Knight trilogy, Bale has been hard at work and now has two impressive films to show for it – the highly anticipated American Hustle, where he stars opposite Jennifer Lawrence and of course, Out of the Furnace, a gritty tale of blue-collar life in the American Rust Belt.
For Bale, Out of the Furnace provided a new kind of challenge.
The film is a low-budget affair, directed by Scott Cooper, for whom this is a sophomore directorial effort. Even so, with a stripped down, hard-hitting screenplay and all-round great performances, Out of the Furnace has been receiving stellar reviews so far.
Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace, out in the US this Friday, has already managed to impress the critics.
Out of the Furnace, a story of working class turmoil and frustration, has critics singing its praises so far. That’s not unexpected – starring Christian Bale and Casey Affleck, the movie boasts plenty of talent. Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Willem Defoe, Forest Whitaker and Sam Shepard all give their best in Out of the Furnace, which tells the story of Russell Baze (Christian Bale) taking justice into his own hands after the disappearance of his younger brother Rodney (Affleck). It’s set to the background of economic decline and social struggle, making this a film about the dark, often ignored side of the American dream.
Bale's steady and nuanced performance has impressed the critics.
The LA Times’ Betsey Shakey is impressed both with the “lean script,” which “gives a face to the all too familiar struggle” as well as the strong performances of the all-star cast. “Bale and Affleck are as nuanced as Harrelson is unhinged,” the review notes “It is among the finest work done by all three.”
Russell Baze lives in a rundown, underprivileged neighbourhood where he works full-time at a steelworks while also trying to support his wife and take care of his dying father. His spirits lift, however, at the arrival of his brother Rodney, a soldier, who has finally come home after serving in Iraq. Unfortunately, he brings will him a burden - he's in need of money and has approached a ruthless crime boss in order to get it. They arrange for him to take part in a bare-knuckle boxing match, but when he fails to comply with the winning/losing arrangements he made with his new boss, he suddenly disappears without a trace. Russell goes to the police who are less than helpful and have been unable to find his brother and so he decides to go after the gang himself, determined to seek justice.
This gripping crime thriller has an all-star cast and has been directed by Scott Cooper ('Crazy Heart') who also wrote the screenplay alongside Brad Ingelsby ('The Dynamiter'). It's a story of desperation, justice and loyalty and just how far people would go to save their loved ones. 'Out Of The Furnace' is set to appear on UK cinema screens on November 29th 2013.
After the death of a friend, mysterious hermit Felix Bush (Duvall) decides it's time to get low, put his affairs in order. So he hires the local undertakers (Murray and Black) to throw a funeral party before he dies. While this will help him clear the air, it also undermines the dangerous reputation that's guaranteed his privacy for so long. It also means confronting a dear old friend Mattie (Spacek) about a dark event from their past. And more importantly, making peace with himself.
Continue reading: Get Low Review
For a biopic of a real-life person, this feels like an oddly standard mob thriller....
Irish-American criminal mastermind Whitey Bulger was arguably one of the most dangerous men in America...
Sometimes, the greatest hiding place is in plain sight. For twelve years from the mid-1990s,...
Coarse and not exactly subtle, this dark drama might disappoint viewers expecting a more traditional...
Russell Baze lives in a rundown, underprivileged neighbourhood where he works full-time at a steelworks...
Not only is this film elegantly shot, with a gorgeous sense both of internal textures...